Recently, the education ministry announced the introduction of the teachings of Marcus Garvey in our schools. This, according to the ministry, is in an attempt to promote Garvey’s philosophies, empower youths, and impart a sense of civics and black pride.

These are lovely sounding words, and something which Marcus Garvey’s children, along with the Rasta community have been promoting for decades, but it is nothing more than a feel-good story which will have no impact on future generations, apart from cementing knowledge of Marcus.

It is understandable why the Government has reached out for Garvey; it is something which many have been demanding for years. His teachings, so the argument goes, train Jamaicans in a way that we will take off as a nation fulfilling our obvious but stifled potential, but it will not come to fruition and certainly not this way.

Garvey’s teachings are of black power, empowerment, and an understanding that we cannot interact with Euro-American countries on an equal footing until we are on equal economic footing. At the same time, he acknowledged that we cannot deal with those countries until we first go back to Africa in the literal and metaphorical sense.

His teachings also promote self-sufficiency in all spheres, breaking ties ultimately with the former colonial masters.

The current efforts at south-south integration by luring wealthy Africans to engage in the tourism industry shows the bankruptcy of the attempts to promote Garveyism already. The flagship programme is not the exchange of students, technology, or other skills, it is tourism, something which will only concern the super-rich. We are talking about teaching African countries about the ‘glory and joy’ that we currently experience from tourism.

Tourism, if we are honest, is the exact opposite of what Garvey preached, and to utilize it for this purpose is heinous and shows the lie for what it is. Garveyism in schools would mean more than one class, it would mean a total cultural change of the institution. Backwards dictatorial thinking which mandates the length of children’s hair — a colonial holdover — the uniforms we wear, the books we read, the way we teach economics and business, the way we discuss philosophy and law, all of these would have to be uprooted and realigned to a Garveyite worldview and this will not be countenanced by those in power.

We are with the west, that was the mantra of Bustamante and that remains the mantra of this Administration and the Opposition. To be with the west is to be against Garvey.

We belittle and destroy the idea of the community, a concept which Garvey knew was a key pillar in liberation and upliftment and have instead sold our souls to the cult of the individual. There is no way the teachings of Garvey will take root in a meaningful way or are intended to take root in a meaningful way.

Will we be utilising Garveyism in art and literature? Will we be incorporating it in psychology, history, religious education, principles of business, and so on, or will it be relegated to some non-elective class which becomes viewed as an easy one – akin to religious education or PE? I think deep in our hearts we know it won’t be, for to integrate it in a holistic manner would ultimately mean uprooting everything on which this country is built, especially the myth that is our national motto.

This venture, this feel-good endeavour will amount to a hill of beans. Its impact will not be as promoted and while we will at least have a generation knowledgeable about Garvey, it will be like a Communist who has never worked in a factory or a clergyman who has never ventured past his vestry: good theory but useless in practical application.

However, it is not all doom. By placing Garvey on the curriculum they are planting the seed for the next generation, if they wish, to take the next step and move from theory to practice. Time will tell, and those in power are betting that nothing will change. I hope they are wrong.

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